Glenn girls basketball head coach Kyle Amor knows his team’s sectional is going to be tough. Real tough.
In fact, prior to the season he told me he believed the state champion would emerge from Sectional 19 at Jimtown.
Amor may have a little of Nostradamus in him when you consider No. 2 South Bend St. Joseph (19-1 overall), along with the sixth-ranked Lady Falcons (19-2) and No. 13 Rochester (17-4) will all be playing in the Jimtown Sectional.
Prior to yesterday, what was unknown was the path each of the three aforementioned teams would have to navigate through to be the one team left standing come Saturday night headed to the Rochester Regional.
And when the brackets were unveiled during the Tournament Pairings Show on Sunday, you could probably hear the moans coming from the Walkerton area. That’s because Glenn will have to play St. Joe in the first game of the sectional (at 6 p.m. Feb. 10).
That’s certainly the last team the Lady Falcons wanted to see in the opener.
But that’s the beauty of a blind draw that doesn’t seed teams.
Glenn fans probably don’t like it, but it’s the way the IHSAA has done it forever, and to be honest it’s what makes the Indiana High School basketball tournaments so special.
I remember growing up in Anderson and watching the boys tournament draw during the single-class basketball days. Year in and year out, there wasn’t a better sectional in the state than the one in Anderson, where a standing room only crowd of 9,000 strong would jam the Wigwam to see some of the state’s best teams and best players leave it all on the hardwood.
Back then you had to go through a lottery to even get tickets to the Anderson sectional. That might be hard to believe, but very true.
When the sectional pairings were announced, Norm Held’s Anderson Indians might be matched up against Anderson Madison Heights or Anderson Highland. No one really wanted that in the opening round, but that was the reality of the system.
Some 35 years later, Indiana’s single-class basketball system is long gone, but the way the tournaments are drawn is not. And that’s a good thing, too.
Glenn fans, and for that matter St. Joe fans, too, likely don’t like having the two best teams in Sectional 19 playing on opening night, but that’s the beauty of Indiana high school basketball and its storied basketball tournaments.
You never know who is going to draw what team and what your team’s path to a sectional title will be until that bracket is unveiled.
Sure, Glenn and St. Joe would love to trade places with Rochester, who has a cakewalk path to Saturday night’s championship game – having to face Jimtown and then Culver Academy.
Instead, the Lady Falcons and Indians will collide in arguably the best sectional opening-round game statewide in any of the four classes.
It’s a game that will feature very good guards, two of whom will be playing Division One basketball next season in St. Joe’s 5-foot-8 Madeline Raster (Harvard) and 5-8 Michelle Weaver (Butler). It will also feature a very good post player in Glenn’s 6-2 Loren Vukovits, who is IUSB bound.
The two teams are an impressive 38-3 this season. St. Joe’s only loss is to the eighth-ranked team in Class 4A Penn (52-46). Glenn’s lone losses are to the fourth-ranked team in 1A Oregon-Davis (58-53) and the 16th-ranked team in 4A LaPorte (58-53).
Amor has done a masterful job with the Lady Falcon program.
When he took over, Glenn won just four games in his first season.
This season the Lady Falcons are on the verge of another Northern State Conference championship, looking to go undefeated in conference play for two years straight.
With wins over Knox and Culver Community this week, Glenn will win the NSC again and have a two-year combined record of 36-4.
Amor’s Lady Falcons have spent most of this season ranked in the top 10 in Class 3A. They won the Goshen Holiday Tournament for the second straight year and beat defending state champion Oregon-Davis for the first time in a decade en route to a Bi-County championship.
However, there’s still something missing for Amor’s senior class. It has never won a sectional game.
If the Lady Falcons end that drought, they’ll likely win a sectional championship and could go a long way in the state tournament.
There’s no doubt, the St. Joe game will be the ultimate measuring stick for Amor and his program.
As is often said, to be the best you have to beat the best. Glenn will get that chance next week.